The advantages of cross-platform development such as shorter time to market and reduced development costs, businesses, especially startups, opt for this approach more often than for classic native app development. Continue reading →
According to the latest statistics, 59.17% of mobile users in the USA choose iOS devices while 40.54% prefer Android. Business owners who want to launch mobile apps should decide how to meet the needs of both groups. Should they go for native development and build two separate apps but spend a lot of time and money on it? Or should they start with cheaper and less time-consuming cross-platform application development to build one app that will run on both platforms?
While both approaches are popular among business owners and developers, we want to shed light on cross-platform application development and its peculiarities in this post. But for a better understanding of available opportunities, let’s start with a comparison of native and cross-platform development approaches.
Native app development implies building a new app for every platform. It means that if you want to build an application that will run on both iOS and Android, you’ll have to build two different apps. Consequently, you’ll need to look for two different development teams. One of them should have expertise in Objective-C for iOS development and another should have deep technical skills in Java to build an Android app.
Business owners might opt for building native apps when their goal is to provide users with superior performance. Aimed at a specific platform, native apps work flawlessly and boast a unique design. They could be a perfect option for any business that builds mobile apps but there are two drawbacks: long development time and high cost. That’s why more and more businesses, especially startups, opt for cross-platform development.
Cross-platform development allows for building one app that will run on both platforms, in one go. Let’s have a detailed look at the benefits and limitations of cross-platform app development in the following sections.
Cross-platform application development has a number of advantages that make it a preferable option for numerous businesses. Let’s cover them one by one.
By building a cross-platform app, you can kill two birds with one stone, especially if your target audience equally uses Android and iOS. Even if your potential customers prefer one platform over another, creating an app that can perform on both platforms is a sensible decision that will yield great results in the future.
Although the word “cheap” isn’t really applicable to software development, building a cross-platform app doesn’t cost as much as building a native app. The cost is lower because an application is built with identical technology and developers reuse the source code. As a result, deployment, maintenance, and updates are also easier to perform on apps with a common code.
We have already mentioned that cross-platform application development implies less work than native app development. A common source code helps to cut down up to 80% of development efforts. As a result, business owners can significantly reduce time to market.
App design that reflects identically on any platform adds to user experience. Whatever operating system app users want to use – iOS or Android – they won’t be confused by discrepancies in two versions.
The above mentioned points can become key factors when business owners need to choose between native and cross-platform app development. But to make an informed decision, you should also be aware of the drawbacks of cross-platform software. We’ll have a look at them in the next section.
One of the most critical limitations that is often mentioned in relation to cross-platform apps is their performance. While native applications boast flawless performance, cross-platform ones can be somewhat slower and inconsistent. It happens because some cross-platform components don’t comply with native ones.
Imperfect performance can become a reason for poor user experience and result in lower customer satisfaction. But to notice inconsistencies in app performance, users should be either developers themselves or use apps with very complicated functionality. In case with simple or mid-complexity applications, user experience doesn’t suffer much.
One more issue that can arise during cross-platform development is a complicated design process. To make an app adequately reflect on both iOS and Android platforms, designers and developers need to think through every detail, from functionality to buttons, to make sure an app will work consistently no matter the platform. However, by taking more effort to create a high-quality design on the development stage, you’ll save time on its maintenance in the future. Thus, such investment in design is quite reasonable.
Taking into account all the benefits and limitations of cross-platform app development, one can conclude that it’s a great option if:
Later on, when you launch your cross-platform app, gather feedback from customers, and manage to attract investors, you can develop native applications to improve quality.
If you decide to build a cross-platform app, you’ll have a choice of frameworks for your application. While your development team will advise on the framework that will best meet your business needs and requirements, we offer you to quickly get acquainted with popular frameworks used to build cross-platform apps.
React Native is the most popular framework for cross-platform application development for several years already. Launched in 2015, it’s still used all around the world to build hybrid apps.
Benefits of React Native
Limitations of React Native
Examples of apps built on React Native: Pinterest, Instagram, Skype, Bloomberg.
The next popular cross-platform framework is Flutter. It was developed and launched by Google in 2018, and since that time, it’s one of the serious React Native competitors. Besides the almost native look of apps and the hot reload functionality, Flutter boasts a number of other cool features.
Benefits of Flutter
Limitations of Flutter
Examples of apps built on Flutter: Alibaba, Google Ads, Tencent.
Ionic is an HTML framework aimed to build cross-platform apps with a native feel and design. In addition to creating mobile apps, Ionic is a great tool for developing Progressive Web Apps (PWAs).
Benefits of Ionic
Limitations of Ionic
Examples of apps built on Ionic: IBM, SAP, NASA.
Xamarin is an open-source framework that was launched in 2011. In 2016, it was acquired by Microsoft that made the framework more recognizable. Xamarin uses programming language C# that is considered to be more modern and flexible than Objective-C or Java.
Benefits of Xamarin
Limitations of Xamarin
Examples of apps built on Xamarin: Alaska Airlines, American Cancer Society, BBC Good Food.
Although some people might doubt the quality of cross-platform development, real-life examples show that in particular situations it is no worse than native one. Such popular apps as Instagram, Skype, and many others show that cross-platform apps are decent market players loved and used by millions of people.
Thanks to the advantages of cross-platform development such as shorter time to market and reduced development costs, businesses, especially startups, opt for this approach more often than for classic native app development. Of course, cross-platform development does have its limitations but it can be a great choice to build the first version of a mobile app.
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